Maureen McCabe (20 / 21st Century)

Maureen McCabe (20 / 21st Century)

Maureen McCabe was born and raised in the close-knit Irish-American community of Wollaston, Massachusetts, just south of Boston.  At the age of six she entered the rosary bead drawing contest at her local St. Ann’s Church.  When the winner was announced, three Maureen McCabes stood up.  Stunned and shocked with the possibility she had not won or worse – that someone would take credit for her work – she left childhood and entered reality.  The realization that illusion and truth are often intertwined has guided her life and art ever since.  

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As a child Maureen went to drawing classes at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. These Saturday mornings inspired her with a sense of excitement and wonderment she has felt all her life: they introduced her to what has become a life-long passion for art, and provided her with a glimpse into the mysteries of the museum and its treasures. "Walking through the medieval section and up a back staircase was a magical weekly journey for me," she recently recalled. "We were given paper and pencil and told to find something to draw. We could go anywhere unaccompanied. I was drawn to the magical --- the myth sculptures and medieval relics --- it all made sense to me."  These elements, a fascination with different cultures and a love of the treasure trove, are still present in McCabe’s work, and provide dominant and underlying themes that she orchestrates in her pieces.

McCabe graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1969 and earned her M.F.A. from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1971. McCabe, experimenting with shape, form, and color, painted large, bright, abstract compositions and made collages from sheets of plastic that were all the rage at the time. In her second year at Cranbrook, however, she was in a car accident while driving back to school. From that harrowing experience she created an assemblage piece using the bloodied black stocking she had been wearing and an embroiderer's hoop. This piece was wholly unlike her other work to date and moved beyond student work in the sense that it was not created for someone to like or critique in a classroom. Rather, it was the first realization of a private reliquary in which the juxtaposition of specific objects gave expression to multiple personal meanings. McCabe had found her medium. The act of assembly, fitting together found objects, discovered treasures, and drawn images, has occupied McCabe's artistic imagination from that moment to the present.

A professor of art at Connecticut College, McCabe has been awarded for both her excellence in teaching as well as in her artwork.  Her assemblages have been exhibited both abroad as well as in the United States at the Kouros Gallery and the Smithsonian Institution and Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City, the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Gallery in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in Vermont, among other venues.

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